Whisky Advocate

Sazerac Rye 18 yr. old, Part II

January 15th, 2008

Expanding on my blog posting last Thursday regarding the past two vintages of Sazerac Rye 18 year old being stored in stainless steel tanks, I thought it would be interesting to discuss the reasons why this is happening.

The obvious one is to keep the whiskey from aging longer, which would increase the risk of the whiskey getting too old and woody. But, why would Buffalo Trace do this in the first place? Why not just bottle more of it? (They could bottle ten times the amount they currently bottle and it would still sell.)

Because you don’t have any more, that’s why. Excluding the 18 year old stock currently in stainless, the oldest rye destined to be Sazerac Rye 18 year old is only 11 years old. That stash of 18 year old in stainless , as President and CEO Mark Brown told me, “will trickle out over the next 7 years” until a new and consistent supply of 18 year old rye whiskey is fully matured.

So, Sazerac Rye 18 year old will continue to be in very short supply for several more years. If you find some, and you like rye whiskey, stock up!

And one final note, before you ask. Yes, according to Mark Brown, the Sazerac Rye 18 year old stored in stainless is, indeed, 18 years old, not older (which it could legally be).

13 Responses to “Sazerac Rye 18 yr. old, Part II”

  1. Sam Komlenic says:

    “…the Sazerac Rye 18 year old stored in stainless is, indeed, 18 years old, not older (which it could legally be).”

    Does this mean that, legally, whiskey not need spend time in a barrel to age? If this is the case, could Sazerac bottled on its eighteenth birthday but not sold for two years be considered 20 years old? Or is there simply something I’m not fully thinking through here?

  2. John Hansell says:

    What I meant was that the the whiskey could have been more than 18 years old before going into stainlesss. Many companies will sell a whiskey at a certain age, even though the whiskey is older than that (e.g. Van Winkle Rye 13 year old, and Ardbeg 17 year old).

    Aging whiskey in stainless doen’t count. Thank God for that!

  3. Sam Komlenic says:

    Thanks for the clarification, John. I was looking at it from an unnecessarily obtuse angle, there!

  4. Jon W says:

    John,
    I’m still not completely clear on why Buffalo Trace would store the whisky in stainless steel tanks rather than bottle it all up front and then distribute the bottles over the next seven years according to supply. I’m assuming that logicistically it’s easier to store a few huge steel tanks of whisky than several thousand glass bottles. Is that the case?

    -Jon

    PS – I was lucky enough to grab a bottle of this during the short time it was available in PA last November and it is truly fantastic stuff. I’m looking forward to future releases.

  5. John Hansell says:

    Jon, I suspect there are several reasons. Logistics, as you suggest, could be one. The others could be issues associated with long-term storage of whiskey in bottles–oxidation, evaporation, bottles getting corked, corks deteriorating, etc. Plus each vintage would need a different label.

  6. Sam Komlenic says:

    Jon,

    I, too, got one during the couple of week window it was available in PA. I think the state literally got maybe four or five cases of this year’s release. If you’ve never used the PLCB website as a resource for availability, you should. If your local store doesn’t have a particular item, they can order it from another store that has it in stock at no additional charge. That’s how I got my Thomas Handy Sazerac last year.

  7. JON HIEB says:

    WELL,AFTERALL-THAT’S WHAT KEPT THE 1974 (REAL) MICHTERS AVAILABLE FOR US FOR A WHILE………..

  8. Tahir Ahmed says:

    Jon,

    I was curious as to what grade/type of stainless steel was used here? Doesn’t stainless steel affect the colour of the whiskey. I was also wondering about keeping whiskey in a hip flask – is it a good idea? What sort of stainless steel should the flask be made of?

    T

  9. John Hansell says:

    Tahir,

    I honestly don’t know the answer to the grade/type. If I find out, I’ll post it. Many hip flask manufacturers don’t recommend long-term storage of whisky in it (e.g. more than one week.)

    John

  10. Tahir says:

    John,

    Thanks for your reply. I had read somewhere (some time ago) that the iron in stainless steel changes the colour and taste of the whiskey? Have you experienced/heard of this?

    T

    PS: My sincerest apologies for the typo…

  11. John Hansell says:

    I never leave my whisky in a flask more than a few days at most and have never had a problem. You should follow the recommendations of the flask producer. Perhaps what you said above is why they don’t want you storing whisky in a flask for long time periods.

  12. June says:

    Dear All,

    Where may I hunt down a precious bottle?

    Many thanks,
    June

  13. John Hansell says:

    June, the Malt Advocate website and Malt Advocate magazine both list specialty retaiers. This would be a good place to start.

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